Op-Ed

No apologies for targeting coal enemies

At issue | July 28 Herald-Leader article, "Coal execs taking aim at Democrats"

The Herald-Leader obtained a copy of a letter that I sent discussing support of certain political candidates in upcoming elections that clearly bear on this nation's energy policy.

My letter stated the obvious: There are those of us in the coal industry who are clearly concerned about the attack on the coal industry, and by extension, the jobs of each and every one of those workers, directly and indirectly, employed by the coal industry.

The Obama administration, through the Environmental Protection Agency and the Congress controlled by Rep. Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Harry Reid are taking steps that seek ultimately to eliminate coal production and its use.

We believe these goals are disastrous for Kentucky and West Virginia, and would constitute an egregious national energy policy that would make us more, not less, dependent on foreign governments.

Kentucky U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler voted for cap-and-trade which, if enacted, would amount to a tax on average citizens and would undermine the benefit to Kentucky and West Virginia businesses and consumers of low-cost energy. Chandler also is a co-sponsor of H.R. 1310, a bill intended to ban valley fills and therefore eliminate most coal mining in Appalachia.

Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway, a candidate for the U.S. Senate, has made statements that call into serious question whether he would be willing to stand up to Reid and the Obama administration on the important questions of cap-and-trade and rational mine permitting.

In West Virginia, U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall has stated that the "EPA is simply doing its job" as it has basically caused mine permitting, even for underground mines, to slow to a trickle. The EPA's interference in the states' administration of mine permitting decisions is, in my view, a veiled attempt to strangle the industry, and by extension the jobs of those who work in the industry.

The article also erroneously implied that mine-safety legislation is a key driver of this potential initiative.

Our primary focus is on protecting a core job-producing industry from destruction through overzealous and unproductive environmental regulation. The coal industry is not opposed to reasonable and appropriate legislation that will truly improve mine safety.

The notion that mine safety is not important to the industry is absurd; the costs of safety lapses far outweigh — in both human and monetary costs — any alleged monetary gains by cutting safety corners.

There are several of us in management positions in the industry who, as native Kentuckians and West Virginians, strongly oppose the Obama-Pelosi-Reid agenda. It is bad for business, bad for our employees, bad for the communities we live in and bad for our nation.

We intend to support those candidates who support a rational energy policy that recognizes the economic, employment and national security implications of our nation's most abundant energy resource — coal.

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